Kinzinger challenger calls request dangerous, irresponsible
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and four other Republican congressmen sent a letter to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urging a plan that would begin a safe, phased reopening of businesses critical to the state’s economy.
In their letter, they emphasized the coronavirus pandemic has impacted different parts of the state in different ways, and a safe and sensible reopening plan must reflect those differences. Also signing the letter were Darin LaHood of Peoria, Rodney Davis of Taylorville, John Shimkus of Collinsville and Mike Bost, whose district includes the Carbondale area.
The letter follows last week's announcement of an extension of the state's stay-at-home order to May 30. This week, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced the highest number of deaths that the state has seen in a single day since the pandemic began.
In their letter, the congressmen addressed that and regional matters as well:
“Illinois is a diverse state and the coronavirus has impacted communities in different ways. As we work to start the phased reopening here at home, we cannot do so with a blanket, one-size-fits-all plan. Sadly, this week marked the deadliest day Illinois has faced with the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and yet we still have several counties reporting zero cases of COVID-19," they stated. "As we continue to face rising numbers of coronavirus in certain areas, we need to continue getting the necessary resources to aid those areas. But we also need to recognize that areas without any cases of the virus need to be treated differently.
“We’re urging Governor Pritzker to take a regional approach by starting the reopening process in low-risk areas," the letter continued. "With improved and increased testing, and an emergency response plan in place should an outbreak occur, the governor should move forward on allowing Illinoisans the opportunity to make informed decisions on how they can safely return to work."
"The federal government has done a great deal to help the State of Illinois, like funding for health care providers and economic boosts to small businesses, families, individuals, and more. Now is the time for Governor Pritzker to step up with a plan to reopen Illinois that prioritizes the health of our people and our economy," the congressmen stated. "We stand ready to work with the Governor on this effort.”
Kinzinger's November election challenger Dani Brzozowski, of La Salle, called their request "irresponsible."
"It's a political maneuver that demonstrates a real carelessness for the livelihoods of the people of this district on Kinzinger's part," Brzozowski said.
Brzozowski said a virus does not recognize county lines and the state officials have a better handle on the status of the pandemic than local officials do. She said nothing about the congressmens' request has merit.
"I think it's irresponsible and incredibly dangerous, and that's not to say that it's not important that we reopen the economy," Brzozowski said. "I owned a small business; I know how incredibly difficult this is for small-business owners. I've talked to dozens of them over the past few weeks and they're facing hard decisions."
"A CBS News poll this week said that 70% of Americans agree that social distancing and isolating should be our priority over reopening the economy. We know that a regional approach can't work. The virus doesn't respect county lines. And particularly in the case of Adam Kinzinger, this is in really egregious, flagrant disregard to the people in his district. Every county here has reported cases of COVID." (Putnam County had not, as of Thursday morning.)
"There are 600 employees of Rochelle Foods who were just tested. They're not done testing," she noted, and then again criticized a rush to regional reopening rules. "This is an incredibly dangerous approach when we're just now starting to test with the kind of penetration that we need to make sure that we're clean."
Brzozowski continued: "We know that our rural hospitals have limited resources. We also know that of the top five mortality rates in the state of Illinois, two of them are outside of Cook and the collar counties. So this continued demonization of Chicago, as if this is a Chicago problem and as if the virus has somehow targeted urban dwellers is misleading and incredibly dangerous."